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June 20, 2006

CDebate: Bill - Birthday Suit

Today marks the debut of a soon to be regular feature here on San Diego Serenade: The CDebate. One of the nice things about having a music blog is that occasionally things are made easy for you when an artist contacts you, rather than you having to discover them yourself. It gets difficult to give CDs the attention they potentially deserve, however, and part of the reason for this is, for me at least, that you'd like to present the music and artist in a unique and entertaining style. Hence, I have concocted the CDebate. Though it may be awkward to read and pronounce, I have faith that it will prove an interesting and entertaining way to review CDs.

The format will be that of a basic high school debate team. Or what I imagine one is like, if I had participated in one, if they still exist. There will be a "Pro" side and a "Con" side, and each side will be allowed a main argument, and then a rebuttal/closing statement. This will ensure that the coverage not be one sided, as any fawning will be tempered by a thorough pointing out of a records flaws, and any shitting-on of a CD will also accentuate the positive that may have been overlooked.

Of course, I have encouraged the participants to not refrain from personal attacks, slippery slope arguments, straw men, and hyperbole in making their arguments. MP3s can be used as evidence. We want this to be fun. To make it even more fun, each CDebate will feature one notable music blogger and one of my friends. This mix of people who write about music in their spare time and friends of mine whose musical backgrounds vary greatly will ensure a spirited CDebate. In all cases, I will deem a winner, based on their arguments and my opinion of the CD, and award the CD the coveted status of "MustCD" or the shameful scarlet letter of "CDeezNutz" status.

Without further ado, I'd like to introduce the participants in this weeks CDebate. Taking the "Pro" side is Greg, who writes the music blog Captain's Dead. Greg and I share a fondness for Tom Waits, and he was one of the first people to link to my blog when I started it, so his blog has long been one of my checkpoints for posted tunes and unique viewpoints. Taking the "Con" side will be my friend Andrew Kilpatrick, who I've known since third grade. Among other projects we've worked on together throughout the years, Andrew is the singer in my band Re-Ree and has written well over 60 songs, and those are just the ones that I know about.


Bill


The CD in question will be the latest album "Birthday Suit" by San Diego's own "Bill." I was sent their album about a month ago, and figured that a local band would be a good way to start off this feature.

We begin with the Pro section, by Greg from Captain's Dead

This brief review of San Diego rock n sway ensemble Bill's Birthday Suit will be written not through my voice, but through the voice of a 19 year old female named Mandy.

Ok, people listen up! Bill's new record Birthday Suit is everything I have been dreaming a record would be since I first heard Jason Mraz's "Remedy" at the Sam Goody. I never bought that record, just the cd single, but I know that Birthday Suit is much, much better.

The opening track "It Wont Hurt" has some great harmonies and finger snapping that totally reminds me of these songs that they play on the local oldies station, only bill does it in a much cooler way. I remember my dad saying that "It Wont Hurt" reminded him of do-top or do-bop, something like that. My brother, Hunter, used to totally be into Dave Matthews Band and they remind me a lot bill. It leads me to believe that Bill must have been a big influence on Dave Matthews, because bill's song "Sitting Duck" sounds an awful like something off of Under the Table and Dreaming. I guess imitation is indeed the highest form of flattery. I am on to you now, Mr Matthews! I love, love, love the song "Sound Scientist!" They way the lead singer can sing fast and flow just like a rapper is awesome. That's as far I have made it listening to Birthday Suit but I know the rest is going to be just as awesome.

So, in closing, if you are looking for an awesome record to cruise around town in your VW or just chill at the beach, then Birthday Suit is so for you. My friend Hannah, who doesn't like anything, said she is going to buy this record tomorrow! Its that great!


A strong opening salvo for the "Pro" faction. Let's see how Andrew can shape up in the "Con"

Don't Pay This "BILL"
A standard three-paragraph essay using a pun in the title

Bill Stevenson, Bill Haley, Bill...

The list of great musicians named bill isn't long, and isn't going to get any longer with this collection of mediocre songs from a band that calls itself "Bill." I don't know anything about them, but I am going to make some assumptions here:

Their lead singer, bill, wears a knit beanie indoors. He used to be a Christian in high school, but lapsed in college, possibly under the corrupting influence of the acapella group (all-male). He is far and away the visionary behind the band. He has had the same girlfriend for a long time. He has a "good" voice. This voice is usually boring, except when it's annoying. Like this one song I got stuck in my head, where he sing-raps like Jason Mraz, which I guess that's the kind of sound he's going for. In that case, I hope he's as devastatingly handsome as Gavin Degraw, because he is less talented.

I imagine that this band would "prefer not to label themselves," but if pressed (like for a really big interview where they were on their best behavior) they would describe it as "jammy-funk-rock-reggae-soul-jazz with a slice o' pop" or something that they actually spent a lot of time coming up with. But let me tell you, this shit is nothing but pop. You can tell because the songs are annoying and get stuck in your head, like that Gavin Degraw song I used to see on MTV at 5 am that goes "I don't need to be anything other than what I been lately." Except none of the songs on here are quite that exhilaratingly awful. I wish some of them were, because I kind of enjoyed that gavin degraw song, like you'd enjoy controlling the pain of a toothache with your own tongue. Nothing on this "bill" record rises to those heights.

And here's one thing I couldn't make up:

"Thoughts fall like waterfalls on an empty page...

LIKE RAIN"

Oh yeah? Waterfalls fall like rain? So essentially, what you're saying here is that "waterfalls fall...like rain?" Take a poetry class dude. Your lyrics suck.


Andrew has delivered some hard hitting arguments for the "Con" side. Let's see how Greg responds with his closing statement:


Listen up, Peter! You forgot Billy Ocean, duh! My dad has the cassette single of Get Outta My Dreams and Into My Car, and i love it, love it, love it! Back to bill, the band. You can use whatever cuss words you want to describe bill, but bill is here to stay! They are so freakin cute, and as a chrisitan i understand what he has gone through. My boyfriend, Brad, totally wants to do it, but you know what i say, "my body is a temple, that you shall not enter!" bill rocks, and you dont, peter!


Seems like Andrew has stepped on the toes, if assumed fictional personas can have toes, of that reviewer. Andrew no doubt has some strong closing words prepared, let's see how he finishes:

Leadbelly said something about songwriting, something like "here's how you write a song. First you get your words, then you get your music, then you put 'em together. Now you got yourself a song." That's what Bill did. Kudos to them for writing songs. While the nay-sayers just sit there saying "nay", the members of Bill actually wrote songs instead of just criticizing them. Or at least that's what I think they would say if they read this review.


Seeing as how both sides have wrapped up their arguments, it is time for me to weigh them and deliver a verdict:

Greg delivers his "Pro" argument in the guise of a teenage girl, and in doing so, speaks volumes to the intended audience of this music. The production is good, the instrumentation and song styles are varied, and the lyrical subject matter and delivery are just the kinds of things that young ladies conceivably swoon for. Andrew, on the other hand, points out the faults of the record from the point of view of a discerning music listener, one with tastes conditioned towards the exact opposite of what this record has to offer.

Which brings us to the question: Did these fellas really look at my website before sending me the CD? You know, do any research, see if it was up my alley and might be worth my time. Did they note the lack of articles devoted to Jason Mraz or Dave Matthews on here? The lack of feel good, summer BBQ material? Nothing on this blog would even lead you to believe than I am a kind-hearted person, let alone someone who listens to the kind of music that would probably have been too pussy to even like back in my ninth grade DMB-fan era! Did they just see that I was a guy that talked about music in San Diego and figure that it couldn't hurt to just send off a copy of the CD with hopes that something good might come of it? To me, the latter plan of action sounds a good deal like spam. Currently in my spam email folder, there is an unsolicited email with the subject line "Would you like your penis to be better looking than your face?" I would have to say that, in all honesty, that extremely odd spam proposition is far more intriguing to me than another email from Bill regarding their latest CD would be.

And it is for that reason, the sheer audacity of sending someone a CD that even the most BASIC research would indicate they have absolutely no interest in listening to, that I am proud to award "Birthday Suit" by Bill the first ever San Diego Serenade CDebate "CDeezNutz" Award:

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That was pretty fun. We'll hopefully be back with a new CDebate next week, pitting a blogger against another die hard music fan who probably likes music just as much, but is just too lazy to do anything about it. Until then, check out this weeks band, Bill at: http://www.myspace.com/bill

If you have a CD that you'd like featured on a future San Diego Serenade CDebate, or are a blogger that would like to participate, please contact me using the contact information at the top of the page.

May 17, 2006

The Hits Keep On Coming - Fifty On Their Heels

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UPDATE: I've posted the Street Scene lineup, with MP3 links, here.

You know the feeling you get as you sit in an airport waiting for you flight to take off when you have a connecting flight you have to make? You're there an hour early, sitting in the terminal waiting. You notice the airplane hasn't arrived yet. No matter, you've still got plenty of time. As long as you take off no less than an hour late, you'll still be fine for your connection. But it gradually become a battle between optimism and reality, and as the clock starts ticking down, you come to the grim realization ten minutes before your deadline that the plane's not coming, you're going to miss your connection, and your vacation is ruined.

Well that's what this past week has been like watching the Street Scene rumors trickle in. The latest, collected nicely for us at the UT's Liner Notes, indicate that She Wants Revenge, My Chemical Romance, Yellowcard and possibly Tool are added to the lineup. The possibility of pulling off an event to rival Lollapalooza that same August weekend appears to have evaporated almost laughably quickly, and as the clock ticks down towards the Monday lineup annoucement, one can only hope that whoever is piloting the Street Scene plane pulls off some Chuck Yeager style heroics to bring the bird in safely. What is most unsettling about the whole thing is not the lack fo indie buzz bands, or major headliners, but rather that the Street Scene seems completely focused in the absolute nadir of shitty genres: the emo/punk bands.

The problem with these bands, none of which I have ever listened to and could not name a song or album by, is that they forgot something about the very basics of punk. Though the Sex Pistols were angry, and the Ramones could only play three chords, both of these bands were essentially pop music gone horribly awry. If you take away the sneering vocals, some of the distortion and slow it all down a wee bit, you've got a sixties pop song. Maybe take out the abortion and glue sniffing subject matter, but anyways. Bands like The Clash would further expound upon the inherent poppiness in early punk music, creating songs that build, segue, flow, you know, songs that behave like Beatles songs. I remember in 8th grade when Green Day came out with Dookie, and all the magazines talked about was the "return of punk." I was confused then, and only now realize that what they meant was the return of punk that you can actually listen to. Nobody's saying you have to puss out to make a pop-esque punk album. But at some point in time, I imagine that artists get a bit tired of playing unpleasant music, and decide that more ambitious goals (the long rumored fourth chord!) are worth a shot.

So as an antidote for the shitty punk/emo that the Street Scene is offering up, I present to you San Diego's own Fifty On Their Heels. Listening to these guys the past couple days has really made me aware of the fact that a record does't have to go by at 120 mph and be shoved down your throat to be punk. The singer has a voice that you'll feel like you've heard many times before, sort of snotty, faux British. But where the band really shines is the music, which manages to never sound the same, and even accomplishes the ultimate punk coup of incorporating different musical passages and even different instruments into the same song. You know how on American Idiot, Green Day had a couple nine minute song "suites" that sounded like 6 different songs put together? Well my favorite song on the album, Occupation, pulls off a similar trick in just three and a half minutes. I hear traces of Rancid in the beginning, and Sex Pistols in the vocals, with a Strokes kind of guitar lick for the chorus and a Clash style breakdown all before it builds to an utterly triumphant, cut off too brief finale.

The guys sound like they're having fun. Which is important. But more important, they sound like the kind of band that you could have fun going to see. Fortunately for you, they're playing two shows in San Diego in June, and will be playing lots more all summer long. Check out the myspace page for dates, a few more streaming songs as well as info on where to get their new CD. San Diego has been on a roll with local bands lately. It's too bad that the major summer festival looks headed in the opposite direction.

Dowload MP3 of Fifty On Their Heels - Occupation
http://www.myspace.com/fiftyontheirheels
June 13th @ The Casbah

May 13, 2006

They Throw Such Killer Grand Ole Partys

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Malcolm Gladwell introduced us all to his concept of snap decision making in his book "Blink." He talked about experts being able to size up a situation, be it a failing relationship or the likelihood of a new product to succeed, in just a few seconds, based on unconscious analysis that even the experts themselves couldn't understand. I think that I experience Blink moments myself with music every now and then. I can think of any number of artists, songs or records that took time to sink in, and whose brilliance was revealed gradually. Many of these musical works I disliked initially, because it's easy to equate "Not Getting It" with dislike.

But there are other times when "Blink" type decisions occur, and within 5 seconds of a song starting up, I can tell that it's something special. The last time it happened was with the Seeger Sessions album, and it happened again last night when I read some of the comments on here recommending some local bands. One of the suggested groups was San Diego's Grand Ole Party. Most myspace pages play a song for you automatically when they load. This can usually be an annoyance, but in the case of this band it works as a hook. It tells you that you made the right decision coming to their myspace page, and that you're going to want to stick around and check things out.

Both of the songs on the page, Insane and Look Out Young Son result in the rarest of myspace page phenomenoms: seeking out the "Volume Up" button rather than "frantically looking for the Mute Button with the driven purpose of someone looking for the abort button as a bomb ticks down its final seconds". Both songs feature guitar and drums that are gloriously sleazy and dirty. They slink and lurch along, rockin all the way. The music sounds sort of like the rawness of early White Stripes like "Jimmy The Exploder," played with the slow back alley coolness of Tom Waits at his most mysterious. But the hook is the singer, who is also the drummer, who is also a lady who can wail like Cassandra from Crucial Taunt. (Watched Wayne's World last weekend, that chick can sing.)

In short, this band sounds like it is A) destined to get signed and release some great material, hopefully some time soon, and B) most definitely rocks live. Fortunately, there's a chance to see them in town tonight, at what is hands the most rockin venue in San Diego that I didn't know existed until today: Gelato Vero in Little Italy, which features Italian Ice Cream, Pastries, Coffee, Performances, Music, Art. If you can't make it there, they're playing both the Whistlestop and the Casbah before the month is over, on the 25th and 28th respectively.

Highly recommended, for now and to keep an eye on.

Video of the band performing at the Casbah
MP3s:
Grand Ole Party - Insane
Grand Ole Party - Look Out Young Son

Review of a show last week at the San Diego Sports Club at Cat Dirt Sez

May 05, 2006

Amplify SD

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Amplify SD is a new online radio station that the UT has started to give exposure to local artists and artists who will be coming to town. Obviously it will be a bit unfocused, and it warns:

The music on AmplifySD reflects a wide range of San Diego music and artists. Some lyrics may be offensive to some listeners. Listen at your own risk!

But it's a good idea. You can listen live with a built in flash player or thru itunes, windows media player or real. Artists can also submit their CDs to get played on the station at the below address:

Amplify SD Radio c/o Marc Balanky P.O. Box 122512 San Diego, CA 92112

Online radio stations like this are always a great idea, but I think that devoting a radio station to something as all encompassing as a city's entire music scene has its downsides. For example, the first song playing when I went to listen was Kill Me Tomorrow - Put The Time Machine In Your Mouth I, which resulted in me closing the player faster than I would have if the picture you find by googling "Lemon Party" had been sent to me by a friend at work. (and evidently there is more than one part to this song cycle). The lack of a "skip" button could prove to be a major inconvenience, since the tenuous thread of "all these bands are from the same town" is unlikely to have that devoted of a following. It's still great exposure and a decent shot at hearing something new that you like.

After listening to a few songs, I heard one by Convoy called "Goodbye Everybody" that sounded promising but cut out after a minute, and a band called Bunky playing a song called "Baba" that wasn't that bad. I'm signing off while Eve Sellis sings "Room at the Top." Signing off this entry, and signing off the online player because this song is god awful and I expect the acoustic strumming to break out into full on Bonnie Tyler power ballad mode any minute. Enjoy your weekend.

Amplify SD address: http://www.signonsandiego.com/sosdradio/

May 02, 2006

Two SD Bands With Sweet Guitar Solos

Not enough local bands email me to tell me about their shows or MP3s, and I'll be damned if I dip my toe into the uncharted waters of venturing out to venues completely blind. We've all been there, usually when you move to a new town, or start school somewhere. One new friend convinces you to just head out to a club where an unknown band is playing, or go see a movie that you never even knew existed. In an effort to prove your open mindedness to this free spirit, you go along, and by the end of the worst two hours of your life you are fairly sure that you never want to speak to that person again, but iyou know with absolute certainty if you ever hear the phrase "going in blind" again in your life, you will render the person saying it unable to participate in an activity in any other manner than that for the rest of their life. (If you couldn't tell, I recently got burned going into something blind. It was a movie, and it was called Brick. You know how ignorant people look at a Jackson Pollock painting and say 'My five year old could have done that?' Well your average ninth grader absolutely could make a better movie than Brick. Never in my life have I regretted not chosing to go see Phat Girlz more.)

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Fortunately, here I am to recommend to local bands to everyone, and just in time for some kick ass shows. First up is Firethorn, who played at the Tiki's local showcase last week, which I missed, but also are playing at Blind Melon's tomorrow with Vintage Honey. Firethorn I guess you could say are rooted in punk, but obviously they're not so far into the realm of punk where I would not be mentioning them on this website. In the way that Nirvana was punk, in terms of heavy power chords, and frayed vocals, that's how Firethorn is punk. Not shouting indistinguishably and generally making everyone miserable around them. Both Reflecting Pond and Make Me Cry on their myspace page capture this kind of spirit, and both feature promient guitar solos that hopefully wail even harder at Blind Melons.


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Next is Road Noise. I met the guy front and center in this picture on National High Five Day, and as soon as I found out he was in a rockabilly punk band, I knew it couldn't miss. This was before I even saw him in the White Suit and cowboy hat. Road Noise has four songs from their demo up on the internet, and while the recording mix isn't the best I've ever heard, I think that the energy that the band undoubtedly has in a live performance is adequately conveyed through the singers voice and the spot on extended guitar solos. They will assuredly deliver the goods when they rock the Parkway Bar in La Mesa on May 13th. My favorite song is Daddy's Drunk, but three more are available online as well, BEG, Rumble Town and Three On A Tree.


http://www.myspace.com/Firethornrock
http://www.road-noise.com
http://www.myspace.com/roadnoisemusic

April 24, 2006

Join The Kite Flying Society

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David Lizerbram sent me the above picture. It's of his bedroom. It's probably unnecessary to say that getting emailed a picture of some dude's bedroom doesn't happen that often, and I pretty much discourage the practice across the board. But this was a special case. David had noticed that Bruce Springsteen was included on the National High Five Day soundtrack CD, and expressed his happiness with that to me in an email. I wrote him back, telling a few Bruce Springsteen related stories of my own, (they involve The Rising, high volume, and the destruction of a friends property.) Then David sent me that picture.

There's a few key things that I like about it. One, it's pretty much the only thing on the wall. You can see a fair amount of wall on either side, and there's nary a "The Kiss" poster or a "Lifeguard May Be Used as a Flotation Device" in sight. So he's not a man to decorate his apartment, but he puts his sparing efforts to good use. Secondly is the speed with which he sent me the picture. It arrived in my email a mere 12 minutes after my Bruce Springsteen stories were sent. This means that he read my email, found his camera, snapped the pic, loaded it up, debated about whether to really send it to a stranger, and decided to go for it, all very quickly. Thirdly, I like the fact that David Lizerbram is the bassist for a sweet band from San Diego called the Kite Flying Society.

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Kite Flying Society

Did you wonder where that was going? Well if you made it here, you'll be a better person for it. From the songs that I've heard, the Kite Flying Society makes music akin to those happy popsters in the Apples In Stereo. Lots of spacey background harmonies on the oohs and the aahs, some handclaps, and eclectic instrumentation that includes organ, guitar and a quite prominent glockenspiel. The songs are incredibly catchy, and stay soft without being wussy. Like, they have enough going on and are fun enough that you'd want to turn them up loud, but they would sound just as good through your headphones while you're walking around the zoo.

David was kind enough to send me two songs to let you all download. 6000 Shipwrecks has the best backgound harmonies and is the more uptempo of the two, plus it includes the rarely attempted background harmony solo, whereas Love & Seagulls is more of a slower, bouncier track with a melody very similar to Daydream Believer by the Monkees, but just enough to reel you in before switching it up on you.

I'm pretty sure the band is named after Max Fisher's sparsely attended club from Rushmore, and I think that the tone of the songs would be akin to the aural equivilent of Wes Anderson fare. Rushmore is my favorite movie and Anderson can do no wrong by me, so I think that this is one band that I'm going to recommend and keep an eye out, as they are currently recording their debut album. They are also playing a few shows at the Casbah, one on June 20th, and Ain't No Cure, a Cure covers benefit show on April 30th.

Check out their myspace page for two more streaming songs: http://www.myspace.com/KFSMusic

MP3s:
6000 Shipwrecks
Love & Seagulls

April 03, 2006

Alta Voz - Overlooked No Longer

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For some reason, I skipped over Alta Voz when summarizing the CityBeat's Local Music issue last week. Well actually I know the reason, it's because there was a Death Cab for Cutie comparison in the first sentence. But looking back, it compares it to the effect-less era of Death Cab for Cutie, which I've never actually heard, and it follows it up with a solid Bends-era Radiohead comparison. So it's probably worth venturing a listen towards, especially since they are playing the Casbah for the first time tonight as part of the Rookie Card Telethon/Bakesale/Rummage Sale/Comeback Show, which sounds like a pretty entertaining affair, featuring several other bands, breakdancers, burlesque, and free cd's with your paid admission, which is only $5.

The CityBeat review described the sound as "desperately sullen" which I guess is pretty accurate. I don't know how much the Bends-era Radiohead comment I agree with. People seem to forget that The Bends wasn't just some mopey record. Songs like "The Bends" actualy reached hieghts of rocking that few bands have made sound as authentic within recent memory. I prefer my tunes to have a big more energy, more of that awesome three note guitar solo from the end of "The Bends", but if there's one particular time and place to show off just how much you rock, it sounds like it would have to be the Casbah tonight.

Alta Voz Myspace site

MP3s:

Double Our Efforts
Twilight In The Colosseum
Smile Like A Minus Sign
The Cutting Shape Of Fate

March 29, 2006

CityBeat's Local Music Issue Annotated with Websites and MP3s!

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San Diego CityBeat came out with their exhaustive and excellent local music issue today. It's full of interesting articles about local bands and local music, and it is all available on their website. Besides the great demo review project they put together, there are some more interesting musings about music in San Diego. These include:

-Obervations and predictions for '06. My favorite is "In an attempt to take disinterested hipster cred to new levels, someone will drag the Casbah's Pac Man game into the main room during a sold-out show and play for the entire set without once looking up."

-13 Local bands being asked how they came up with their name. Holiday & The Adventure Pop Collective was "Inspired by titles like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the band put together a batch of words that gave the feeling of escape."

And then of course there is the reviews of demo tapes the magazine received. There is a Best Of section, but that is not nearly as entertaining as the Rest Of section. After sifting through not nearly as many entries for the NH5D soundtrack project, I can definitely relate to wanting to accurately and viciously describe how bad a song is. I just didn't have the balls to put statements out there in the fashion that the CityBeat did. I mean what if at some point in time through some horrible twist of fate I actually met the person about whom I wrote:

The cheese and schmaltz remained funny until my own penis actually receded into my body. Wait. Hold on... yep, I'm a girl now. Thanks, Andy!

Or

This album came with a note announcing that, "If you've ever heard of the Beatles you will like this CD." Well I've never heard of these Beatles guys, but if they sound anything like Weckel, then the only people who are going to like them are coffeehouse art-fags who dig bad David Bowie impressions. The aural equivalent to spilling a grande brew-of-the-day in your crotch.

That second one Definitely makes me want to hear the album, but I can't find any info on the artist, Will Weckel. Below are a few more artists on the "Rest Of" list that sounded intriguing to me, along with CityBeat review excerpts and attempts to track down their music to sample.

Continue reading "CityBeat's Local Music Issue Annotated with Websites and MP3s!" »

March 28, 2006

New The Vision Of A Dying World Song

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I emailed the guys in The Vision Of A Dying World a few times the past week, and I like to imagine that the guy in the band reading my emails is the guy in the bottom right corner of the above photo, and that he reads the emails with the exact facial expression he has in the picture. Anyways, they have a new banjo driven song that rules that I thought people would want to hear.

The Vision Of A Dying World - Beaver King

March 21, 2006

The Vision Of A Dying World

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The Vision Of A Dying World

Back in like 8th grade, my mom was kind of fanatical about the music I was allowed to listen to. She attended meetings at my middle school put on by Tipper Gore's PMRC where they would show videos of Ice-T's "Cop Killa" and The Geto Boyz, and come home very distressed about what she had seen, as if purchasing those cd's were the next logical step for a young boy interested in Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I remember going through a friends packaging of "Vitalogy" and crossing out the profanity with a pen, then crossing out other random words to make it look like it was done that way on purpose. My mom even balked at Nirvana Unplugged because of the song title of "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam." Little did she suspect that that song was not the upside down cross, goats head black metal anthem she no doubt envisioned, but a simple little ballad whose heaviest instrument was the accordion that even she could conceivably end up liking.

San Diego's own The Vision Of A Dying World work in the same manner: scary sounding band name that seems to not really apply to the music. And they've got an accordion. The Vision Of A Dying World performs acoustic songs that have been compared to the music of Iron and Wine, mainly because of the reserved vocals and accoustic nature of the music. I hear the comparison, but you have to imagine Iron and Wine with a banjo mixed with a few Sea Shanties, an sometimes prominent percussion section, plus the occasional kind of group vocals that you've heard before on the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" and of course the accordion.

The sum is, of course, much greater than its parts, so check out the posted MP3s here (my favorite is "Travis Wayne" which features the Grateful Dead "Ripple" effect), on the bands myspace site, and on purevolume, which I've never heard of but where you can download a few more MP3s. The band is currently playing a few shows up in Redlands but then heading back to San Diego, where you can catch them on April 6th at Dream Street in Ocean Beach. Many thanks to Troy Johnson from CityBeat for pointing out the band to me.

MP3s:
-Travis Wayne
-Barges
-Sisters

CD available for purchase at CDbaby.

March 20, 2006

Scotch Greens & The Wagon

Scotch Greens at the Liars Club
Scotch Greens at the Liars Club

The only way you could have not been excited by the performance by Scotch Greens at the Liars Club on Friday was if you didn't make it in the door. Due to a combination of the St. Patrick's day holiday and the bands performance, the line was out the door and was operating on a One In One Out policy. As a result, we ended up standing right by the band, who played for an hour in a half and mixed their rootsy punk stylings in with a few eclectic covers including The Pogues "If I Should Fall From Grace With God," Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" and Joe Strummer's "Silver and Gold." A highlight included when the singer stood on one of the Liar's Clubs ultra precarious barstools to play his guitar with a banjo, as demonstrated above. I don't think anyone could actually hear what that sounded like, but the effect was pretty cool nevertheless. The bands new CD "Professional" is out on April 4th.

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San Diego's Own "The Wagon"


I would heartily recommend checking the band out, but they're headed to Europe now, so that's not going to happen. Take a listen to an mp3 of their song Deaf Girlfriend instead. You also might try checking out the singer from Scotch Greens cousins' band, The Wagon as an alternative. I had the good fortune to stand next to him during the show, and hopefully he isn't offended by the way I identified him above, as I don't think I got his name. They're a San Diego band who's about to play a few more shows locally before heading out on a tour of their own throughout California. If you're more of a traditionalist who prefer your rock songs to have less banjo and more anthems about chicks and summertime, then take a listen. The Wagon plays its next show in SD on April 7th at the Whistle Stop and you can listen to a couple songs on their myspace site.

March 15, 2006

Your Favorite Band plays Blind Melon's. That's the band name. Just read the article.

Your Favorite Band

While browsing through listings of San Diego bands on Myspace, I came across Your Favorite Band. Before I had even listened to their music, I thought they might be a great fit for the National High Five Day concert. I mean, compare that flyer to the one of the Bo Dukes:

The Bo Dukes

They look like they could share a bill don't they? Unfortunately it didn't end up working out, but after I got a chance to listen to their music, I realized that it was even more of a shame. Even though they can't play for NH5D at Blind Melon's on 4/20, Your Favorite Band is playing almost a month beforehand on the same stage, Blind Melon's, tonight, March 15th at 10PM. I recommend you get out there and see them. Despite the confusing Who's On First style band name, YFB has an energetic sound, replete with gratuitously awesome guitar solos, drum solos, and, on their song Never, even bass solos. They sound cool in their MP3s, and undoubtedly even better in concert.

The band plays frequent shows in San Diego, they played the Epicentre earlier this week. For more show dates and for three more MP3s, check out their myspace page.

March 08, 2006

Sweet Tooth Used to Live In Ocean Beach. Sweet Tooth Currently Rocks.

Since putting out the call yesterday for some National High Five Day inspired music, I've been exposed to some good, bad and if you can imagine an ugly song, probably some of that two What is encouraging is that even on the first day I've stumbled across some stuff I really like, artists whom I would be proud to exchange a high five with.

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Most notable is Sweet Tooth, who I found on myspace and who used to live in Ocean Beach. Currently rockin' in LA, their guitar driven music sound like a dirtier, harder edge version of the White Stripes or Black Keys fronted by a female singer, Heidi Faith, who can truly wail a la Cassandra, the girlfriend in Wayne's World (that's a compliment.) Any band who boasts a list of influences as diverse as My Morning Jacket, Link Wray, Ricky Gervais and the Traveling Wilburys is doing fine by me. Go listen to their songs Fool's Gold and Hey Hey C'mon on myspace, and stay tuned to San Diego Serenade for info on when they will return to play in San Diego.

March 01, 2006

San Diego Serenade Interviews The Bloody Hollies

The Bloody Hollies

There's a little theory called the "pocket watch theory" that some crazy religious folks use to "prove" the existence of god. It pretty much goes like this: you wouldn't look at a pocket watch, with all its complicated gears and mechanics, and assume that that watch just came into being through pure chance. You would, of course, assume that some unknown master watch maker diligently crafted this perfectly functioning system. So therefore, God created life as we know it.

That jump in logic is intended for dramatic, and probably mocking, effect. But what I intend in all seriousness, is that San Diego may have its own retort for this crazy watch maker analogy. I will call it the Bloody Hollies Theorem, and it breaks down like this: take your ideal of what a rock song should be. Tight rhythm sections, killer guitar solos, a voice teetering on fraying any possible second, and enough spontaneous energy to power the amps they're playing with. You would, of course, assume that some band had diligently crafted this sound over the years, played together since the days of their parents garage and spent every possible free minute ensuring that their music was getting into as many people's stereos as possible. I mean, something that sounds this good couldn't have just come into being through pure chance, could it?

The Bloody Hollies may never be bigger than Jesus, but through the effortless rocking of their music, they very well may disprove the existence of god. Their records and live performances have an impassioned energy to them that leads one to believe the band is infused with an intense ethos and maniacal work ethic behind their records. When I talked with Bloody Hollies singer/guitarist Wesley Doyle, however, I found almost the exact opposite to be true. Through our conversation, as Doyle repeatedly brushed off through the milestones the band has achieved with a nonchalant "they just sort of happened," I found myself amazed and impressed. Here I was speaking to someone who has put out several records of terrific garage style rock and roll, toured Europe, and gotten enough press attention that the band eventually caught my eye, and the main impression I was getting from him was that, eh, a few things went right, a few things went wrong, and here we are. The strange thing is, despite his nonchalant attitude regarding breaking up and reforming his band, promoting it on the internet, or finding his footing in a new local music scene, when Doyle told me that he has no doubt the band is going to become a big band in San Diego, I believed him. It would be hard to think differently once you've heard the music.

What is also inarguable is that when Doyle packed up and moved from Buffalo, NY to San Diego a year ago, San Diego's music scene gained the kind of band that it's been sorely missing. As the Bloody Hollies gear up to start playing regular shows in the San Diego area towards the end of March, I talked with Doyle about the bands history, why they set up shop in San Diego, what it takes to move your band across the country, and how it feels to be so close to making the big time.

Continue reading "San Diego Serenade Interviews The Bloody Hollies" »

February 23, 2006

The Cream of San Diego's Crop

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I didn't learn about this competition until I picked up a flyer about it from Winston's, but it's not too late to still check it out. It's being put on by San Diego Music Scene, a self described "collective designed to showcase, educate, and promote the vast array of local artists and bands." Pretty much, they are putting on a huge battle of the bands style competition, but with an innovative category break down by day of the week. Mondays feature singer-songwriters, Tuesdays are open to under 21 crowds, Wednesdays are for bands and Thursdays are Hip Hop focused. There's still time to catch the last week of the opening round, with performances at Blind Melons in PB, SDSU's Hot Monkey Love Cafe and Dream Street in OB. The finals take place March 8th at Blind Melons. Personally, I am shocked that there are that many MCs in San Diego, but there's nothing like an old fashioned Battle of the Bands to finding an act you previously knew nothing about.

More more info check out www.sandiegomusicscene.org

February 22, 2006

We Conned Buffalo Out Of Their Best Band

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Buffalo, NY has had its fair share of negative things happen to it as a city. The Bills best football player happened to be one OJ Simpson, there was that stretch of four consecutive Super Bowl losses, and that movie that Vincent Gallo made. If there is any justice, Buffalo will also one day be known as the city that let The Bloody Hollies move to San Diego. It could be there own personal curse of the Bambino.

The Bloody Hollies have wound up in San Diego after relocating from Buffalo. They have a new album out now called 'If Footmen Tire You..." and from listening to the MP3s on their website, there can be no way that their concerts would not be one of the best experiences you'll ever have in a San Diego music venue. Their songs that I've heard contain every element necessary for a kick ass rock song: a singer whose vocal chords occasionally veer dangerously close to shredding themselves, a varied and energetic set of riffs that give way to a wailing guitar solo at exactly the right time, and that setting on your guitar that sounds juuuuuust below the level of distortion that mainstream radio stations want to play.

I hear traces of The Hives in the songs energy and style, but more spontaneous and with none of the studio polish that took the danger out of The Hives music. Fortunately, there are a 18 MP3s on their website under the "Listen" section. My favorites include "Swing", which features the best unexpected harmonica solo since Outkast's "Rosa Parks", "Downtown Revolver", and a live version of "Cut It Loose."

The official website is www.bloodyhollies.com. The band are currently planning more shows in San Diego after returning from a European tour.

February 15, 2006

Electric Waste Band: The San Diego Serenade Interview

It took me a long time to get to Winston’s on Monday night. It wasn’t because of traffic, and I didn’t get lost in the backstreet of Ocean Beach. Instead, it took me a long time as a music listener to get to the stage of my music appreciating career where seeing a Grateful Dead cover band actually became a priority of mine. A few months ago, I read a pitchforkmedia.com feature called "The Worst Record Covers of All Time" that, for once, contained a passge I was able to relate to:

Dancing turtles are among the reasons why so many have an innate bias against the Dead. Iconography rife with twirling hippie animals, LSD teddy bears, and grinning skeletons have ruined the band's image to such an extent that coming around to American Beauty and Live Dead now marks the 5th Rite of Passage for growing music geeks, the stage that typically follows "Getting Past the Idea That All Reggae Is the Same."

That described me pretty well. Having had the "Summer of Reggae" force fed to me by a friend a few years ago, (the nadir of which occurred at a concert where Yellowman's pelvic thrusts came dangerously close to my face), I indeed moved on to gain an appreciation for the Grateful Dead. I was surprised when I came to the realization that over the course of several months the Grateful Dead had become one of my favorite bands. Throughout my music listening career, I've always been a definitive studio version kind of guy. I never cared about the taping source of a show, never wanted as many different versions of the same song as possible. I had friends in college that would play nothing but Phish every time you rode with them in the car and my Phish bashing probably rivaled my Sex and the City tirades for conversations that I was most unpleasent to be around when discussing. For some reason though, I found myself really liking these live Grateful Dead recordings. There were just times on sunny early weekend afternoons where it seemed foolish or inappropriate to be listening to anything else.

Even after I realized that I was a fan of the Dead, it still took me months to get out to Winston's and see the Electric Waste Band. I think that in part, this was due to their schedule. They play there every Monday at 10 PM, so there was never any sense of urgency, that my chance was going to pass. There was also just the simple fact that more than any other day, on Monday people just don't feel like rockin' til one in the morning. The band acknowledges this and even puts a list of excuses for you to use when you call in sick to work on Tuesday. It was't until I planned to go see them on a Saturday, but was rendered inactive by an indulgent Friday night, that I vowed not to put off seeing the EWB for another week.

The band was well worth the wait, and is not the sort of musical institution that San Diego should be taking for granted. On Monday, a crowd of 70 people paid five bucks admission and sipped $1.50 Budweiser's while the band blazed through a number of Dead classics. They covered songs you've heard on the radio, (Casey Jones, Turn On Your Lovelight) to ones you'll only hear if you have ventured into the wild world of live Dead recordings, (Bertha, Wharf Rat). Psychedelic backgrounds and projections heightened the atmosphere as the five piece band traded solos, alternated singers, and kept things rockin' until the wee hours of the morning. It was a great time, and the sort of thing that once you hear the first song or two, you'll be smiling the rest of the night while inside you kick yourself for not sucking it up and being tired on a Tuesday much earlier on. It's hard to say whether this would be the catalyst to change a non-fan into a believer, but if you're wavering, few things are as indisputably much better in person than the music of the Grateful Dead.

The day after the show on Monday, February 13th, I talked with Electric Waste Band keyboard player Paul Bell. We discussed a number of topics from the San Diego Music Scene, Life in a Cover Band, The Legacy of the Grateful Dead and why we're not crazy for liking the Dead but hating all those other Jam Bands.

Continue reading "Electric Waste Band: The San Diego Serenade Interview" »

February 10, 2006

Yellowcard - San Diego No More?

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If so, thank god. What a pox on a city's reputation. When a city has one band that is associated with it, and that is all that a lot of people probably know about the local music scene, I bet it is like being from Green Bay if you hate the Packers. You're sitting next to a stranger on a plane, he asks where you from, you reply Green Bay, and you see the gears turning in his head and countdown "3...2...1..." and right on cue he says "How 'bout those Packers!"

Well Yellowcard was no doubt not that engrained in San Diego's reputation. In fact, as I research it further, it appears that they were just more of a Southern California vagabond band. But just the fact that I thought they were a San Diego band is a bad thing. The point is, I decided to follow up the Friday Chart report to see where a San Diego associated band might make an appearance, and Yellowcard's "Lights and Sound" turned up at #40. In the description of the album though, it noted:

After two straight years touring in support of their 2003 Platinum-certified smash Ocean Avenue, Yellowcard primary songwriters Ryan Key and Pete Mosely moved to New York City to clear their heads and begin writing the songs which would constitute their new album, Lights and Sounds, which will be released on January 24, 2006.

To summarize, in contrast to the Padres signing Mike Piazza from the Mets a few weeks ago, New York's loss is San Diego's distinct gain.

EDIT: After a few days, I stumbled across a profile of Yellowcard in a magzine and realized that I had them confused them with Switchfoot. This is bad not only for both bands, but also for the people of San Diego as a whole

February 09, 2006

Local Band Takes Route Thru Kitchen to Success

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An ad for M-Theory Music, (one of San Diego's best independent record stores), advertises an in-store show on Saturday, 2/11 by local band Sirhan Sirhan as a performance by "San Diego's Newest Buzz!" Never one to miss out on the next big thing, I investigated the band...

Continue reading "Local Band Takes Route Thru Kitchen to Success" »

February 08, 2006

SD CityBeat's Local Music Issue

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The San Diego CityBeat is preparing to publish their Third Annual Local Music Issue on March 29th. They are soliciting demos in any form possible until the deadline of February 22nd. Last year I seem to recall that they promised to listen to everything that got sent their way, but I imagine that is a policy that can be quickly abandoned with any local art scene. Anyways, I couldn't find the information on the CityBeat's website, but below is a the information copied from the ad in the most recent issue:

Continue reading "SD CityBeat's Local Music Issue" »

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